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What Chefs Read: Go-To Cookbooks According to Culinary Professionals

Professionals of all disciplines study, and chefs are no different, using cookbooks and culinary tomes for reference, information and inspiration. Take chef Peter Find of Hong Kong restaurant Heimat. The German native owns more than 800 cookbooks spanning a wide spectrum of cuisines and courses, which he has organised by colour in his home in Hong Kong, serving not only as inspiration by as a talking point for guests.

We spoke to Find and others chefs across Asia whose focus runs the gamut of international cuisines to find out which tomes have influenced the way they cook, and what books—long renowned or recently released—they would recommend to both budding chefs and seasoned professionals. From mastering the fundamentals, to specialising in specific cuisines, to taking your cooking to new heights, these are the food books beloved by some of the best in the food business.

Tzi Qin Seow, chef, Brewerkz, Singapore

Which cookbooks or food titles have been a constant go-to as a source of knowledge and/or inspiration?

My go-to cookbooks for inspiration are On Food and Cooking by Harold Mcgee, and On the Line by Eric Ripert. Being an inquisitive chef, I’m all about the science and facts behind food and cooking techniques. On Food and Cooking is the bible which provides countless insights into food, its preparation and enjoyment. As group executive chef of Brewerkz, organisation and management are two of the more important qualities to lead a successful team. On the Line is not just about recipes; it also delves deeper into the organisation and orchestration in a kitchen—hiring and training, planning, and the problems of growing a business.

Which books have changed the way you think about food or your approach to cooking?

When it comes to changing the way I think about food and my approach to cooking, Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat was able to summarise the huge and complex subject of how we should be cooking in just four words: salt, fat, acid and heat. I am impressed by how Nosrat was able to teach the fundamentals of cooking in these four elements.

Sustainability is one of my main considerations when choosing ingredients, and Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating is a reminder of how we can maximise every part of the ingredient and utilise secondary cuts of meat

Which food books would you recommend to home cooks/other chefs?

For home cooks to understand more about the industry, I recommend the late Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly and A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal, and Daniel Boulud’s Letters to a Young Chef. These books convey the priorities and responsibilities of a chef. Most importantly, they teach us to live by these mottos: experience, practice and mastery.


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